One of the most exciting
games ever played in Cincinnati came in 1940 when the Reds won the World
Championship at Crosley Field by beating the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, in the
Detroit took a 3-2 lead in
the Series, winning the fifth game, 8-0, behind the three-single
pitching of Bobo Newsom. The Reds evened the count in Game No. 6 when
Bucky Walters pitched a shutout and hit a home run in a 4-0 Cincinnati
Those two games set the stage
for the climactic seventh. A standing-room-only crowd of 26,854 jammed
into cozy Crosley Field.
It was a classic mound
matchup. Newsom, pitching with only a
day's rest, faced Paul Derringer, the Reds right-hander who had won 20
games during the regular season. The two had been the starters in Game
No.1, a 7-2 decision by Detroit.
Detroit jumped on top with a
run in the third inning. Billy Sullivan, the Tiger catcher, singled and
went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Newsom. Sullivan scored moments
later when third baseman Billy Werber overthrew first base after
fielding Charlie Gehringer's hot smash.
Newsom pitched shutout ball
for six innings before the Reds could muster anything. In the seventh
the Reds got their chance.
First baseman Frank
McCormick, the National League's Most Valuable Player with a .309
batting average and a league-leading 44 doubles, drilled his specialty,
a double, against the left-field fence to lead off the seventh.
Jimmy Ripple, the left
fielder who was acquired midway
through the season from Brooklyn and batted .307, followed McCormick to
the plate. Ripple sent a long drive to the right-center-field power
alley. It looked as though
Detroit right fielder Bruce Campbell would catch the ball.
Fearing the catch, McCormick
held at second, but, as the ball fell, he headed for home. The Tigers
would have had a play at the plate, but shortstop Dick
Bartell held Campbell's throw. McCormick scored standing up to tie the
game. And Ripple slid into second.
Ripple went to third when
catcher Jimmie Wilson sacrificed. That brought a limping Ernie Lombardi
out of the dugout to pinch-hit for Eddie Joost, the second baseman.
Lombardi was intentionally walked and shortstop Billy Meyers came to
Meyers had walked out on the
team earlier in the season because of "personal problems." In Game No.7
he had no problems. He worked the count to three balls and one strike
and then delivered the winning run across the plate.
Meyers hit a long fly ball to
center field. Ripple tagged
at third base. After Barney McCosky caught the ball for the Tigers,
Rippleraced home with the go-ahead
Derringer took over, retiring
the final six Detroit batters, and Cincinnati won the World Championship.
The Reds were quite adept at
winning games in this fashion. During the regular season Cincinnati had
won 41 games by a one-run margin and lost only 17. It was a case of
almost everyone in the lineup contributing something, a hallmark of the
team all season long.
The city of Cincinnati celebrated its World
Championship in grand fashion. Automobiles were not allowed to enter the
downtown area and crowds spilled into the streets. It was a wild night
of celebrating. A streetcar was dismantled. For the most part, however,
Cincinnati celebrated with class, savoring its first championship in 21 years. It
would be 35 long years before the city would know such a feeling again.